Marcel Breuer was born in Pecs, Hungary in 1902.
Influenced by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. He attended the Bauhaus school, where he was one of the school’s most famous students. He returned to the Bauhaus School to teach carpentry from 1925 to 1928, and during this time designed his tubular-steel furniture collection and built a reputation as one of the best designers in Europe.
In keeping with the Bauhaus theories of design, Breuer’s furniture collection is known for its functionality and simplicity, while retaining a distinctly modern appearance. Other early works by Breuer included residences, apartment houses and shop interiors.
Breuer left Germany in 1935 to work with Gropius in London. Two years later, he was asked by Gropius to join Harvard’s architecture faculty. He worked as a professor at Harvard’s School of Design under Gropius where he taught many future famous architects. During World War II, the partnership between Breuer and Gropius revolutionized American house design.
Breuer’s private New York-based architecture practice, which was initially focused on residential architecture, expanded to commercial buildings in 1952 when he commissioned the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Eventually, his firm expanded, opening a branch in Paris.
Breuer was honored as the first architect to be the sole artist of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1968, he won the AIA’s Gold Medal. He was also awarded the first Jefferson Foundation Medal, citing him “among all the living architects of the world as excelling all others in the quality of his work.”
Some of Breuer’s world-famous architecture work includes New York’s Whitney Museum, IBM’s La Gaude Laboratory, the headquarters of the Departments of HUD and HEW in Washington D.C. and Flaine (a ski town in the French Alps).
Knoll furniture designed by Breuer includes The Wassily chair, named after his Bauhaus roommate Wassily Kandinsky and the Cesca, named after his daughter Francesca.
Breuer retired in 1976 died in 1981 after battling a long illness.